(ThyBlackMan.com) Education should be a major priority in the United States in word and deed. The investment we make in the area of education will help shape the next generation that will be making decisions and leading this nation. Or at least this should be out thinking. Education on all levels should be of significant value; however, this has never been the case. Should Americans support HBCUs? It’s a loaded question in a sense, but there are other questions that must be addressed in order to tackle thought in all fairness. The easy answer is yes Americans should support Historically Black Colleges and Universities. As a country we should support it, as we should other institutions, because that funding effects the quality of education provided. There should be support as these institutions are also a beacon of cultural pride that is a part of the American fabric.
However, if America wants to make continual efforts to make a mends for the atrocities that African-Americans have faced in this country, and still endure…one way to do that is to support HBCUs. Many HBCUs offer an education that as enriching as its Predominately White Institution counterpart; the largest difference we see in what they can provide overall is funding.
The hard part that must be addressed is why these institutions exist. We know they should be supported, but for all the “we’re all American” arguments it’s important to acknowledge all that HBCUs represent. Yes, there is a very rich heritage on these campuses, and it is born out of a resilient history. They represent the struggles and triumphs of a people and offer African-American students a space whereby they are welcomed and can be comfortable being themselves. They also offer any other student the opportunity to learn more about African-American culture by being immersed in their academic space. All of this can make for an enriching academic experience for all students that attend HBCUs. With that having been said, it is important to note these colleges and universities exist primarily because African-Americans at the time were not allowed to attend the colleges & universities that already existed…white institutions. Please understand qualification had nothing to do with the lack of acceptance. There was a believe by some, that if one was African-American they were academically inferior to their white counterparts. Now, it did not matter how many times this would be proven false…this is what some choose to believe.
Dr. W.E.B DuBois was an exceptional mind, and he was more than qualified to attend Harvard, but he would have to go to Fisk University, and HBCU, for undergraduate studies as Harvard would not admit him. There are many stories such as this, of African-Americans applying to universities only to be denied admission on the grounds of race. Sometimes the “I don’t understand why they exist” argument can surface when the conversation of support takes place. So, it’s important to answer to bring awareness as to why HBCUs exist, as the history of the matter can be found throughout history.
Supporting HBCUs also aids in supporting the diversity of this country, and within education. The information might be the same, but the presentation makes a difference in how it is received. This can be applied to universities. Different institutions may offer the same majors, but the experience of those majors vary by department, professor and campus. Supporting diverse campuses allows our young people to have more options when it comes to their learning environment. This is very positive. College is a learning experience that reaches far beyond the classroom. These environments help us better understand self, and others. It can stretch our emotional intelligence, understanding of others, and empathy. Education can not cure willful intentional race issues, however it can help heal the issue when the root is ignorance…or a lack of interaction with groups outside of self. In HBCU environments African-American students get to interact in a space created by them, and with them in mind. If they did not grow up around many African-Americans it is an introduction to being in a by you for you space. For the student that is not African-American HBCU environments can challenge the negative stereotypes said student may have encountered regarding African-American people. Bridging cultural gaps in understanding is definitely a good reason to support HBCUs.
There is no downside to supporting HBCUs. Americans should support these institutions as well as education as a whole. Given the history of this country HBCU institutions are a testament to resilience in the face of opposition, and excellence finding a way when barriers are created. These are qualities we would want to instill in every generation. Though the history of what caused their creation is ugly, what they offer students is amazing. HBCUs can off an education that is just as rich and fulfilling as other universities in this country. I’m sure there are many that can create excuses as to why these institutions ought not be supported, though many PWIs have similar issues, but it speaks more to their internal conflicts or ignorance than a problem with HBCUs.
Staff Writer; Christian Starr
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